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SCO Showcase

Last week, I spoke in front of the San Diego World Affairs Council North Chapter (an affiliate of FPA) about the rising objectives and capabilities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Here is my presentation in slides (go to the bottom of the page).

I though some you might be interested in some of the articles I read in preparation for the talk. Most of them have to do with the growing presence of China in Central Asia and Russia’s counter/cooperative moves.

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Wen with Nazarbayev

The Telegraph and The Cutting Edge each take an overview of Beijing’s growing influence in the region. The Cutting Edge details Chinese Premier’s Wen Jiabao’s comment referencing the current financial crisis and China’s role in stabilizing the region, from the latest SCO meeting: “it is necessary to exercise greater interaction between our financial and business communities. SCO members must work…to enhance the coordination of monetary policies and improve financial controls.”

Exactly how is Beijing increasing its influence in the region? While, before the new year China’s National Petroleum Corporation signed another agreement with Uzbekistan to jointly develop an oil field in the country. Combine these oil ventures with the large scale Central Asia-Chinese gas pipeline which will traverse Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan and is set to be completed later this year. Moscow which sees the CA region as its backyard is actually working with China on this deal, providing the pipe-making materials. Is this proof that the SCO is working to bring these states together?

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PetroChina in Xinjiang Provinc

Yes and No. While cooperation between Russia-China has never really been better, they are still strategic competitors for Central Asian influence in many sectors, specifically energy and security. This being true also means that the CA states of the SCO also still lack equal influence in the group as the SCO charter designates. Russia may ‘allow’ China to gain a foothold in the region, but it is still loath to let it become too dominate.

Tim Summers and Stephen Blank have both discussed Russia’s push back in their former Soviet states in recent times, with the US displacement in Kyrgyzstan providing further proof. The Asia Times details the growing power and ambitions of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in the region, and this contrasts greatly with a still rather impotent SCO Regional Anti-Terrorism structure. Russian President Medvedev has called for a 5,000 strong CSTO force to ‘repel any threat’ in the Central Asian region. This force will even include an air-defense system and will be discussed more fully on this blog in the near future.

Lastly, an audience member at the talk asked about Japanese-SCO relations and I didn’t have much to tell him.  After a quick search, I found this compelling report by the Brookings Institution that I can’t wait to read: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Japan: Moving Together to Reshape the Eurasian Community.

(1st Photo: The Cutting Edge – 2nd Photo: Bloomberg News)

 

Author

Patrick Frost
Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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